Minister’s coal mine go-ahead ‘vastly out of line with the science’

12.05.23 By
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The Climate Council has slammed Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s decision to ignore the climate risk of four polluting coal projects as ‘reckless’ and ‘out of line with the science’. 

The Minister will give the green light to the Isaac River coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, and is refusing to reconsider the approvals of the Mount Pleasant open cut coal mine, an expansion of an existing Narrabri coal mine, and a life extension of a coal mine in the Bowen Basin, made under the Morrison Government. 

Last year, a group of Australia’s leading scientists wrote to the Minister urging her to consider the major risk these projects pose to Australia’s climate. 

Climate Council Head of Advocacy, Dr Jennifer Rayner, said: “This decision takes us in entirely the wrong direction to protect Australians from the worsening effects of dangerous climate change.

“The Environment Minister has a responsibility to scrutinise all risks of harm to the environment, and it is irresponsible that she has refused to look at the immense and indisputable climate harm that all new coal and gas projects pose.

“We cannot have new, highly polluting coal as we’re living through the age of climate consequences. What we need is far more action to boost clean energy sources which can replace coal altogether, like the renewable hydrogen investments the government started in this week’s Budget.”

Climate Council Research Director, Dr Simon Bradshaw, said: “The science is unequivocal: climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, is the greatest threat to Australia’s embattled wildlife and ecosystems. New fossil fuel developments are utterly incompatible with protecting our environment and securing a liveable future.

“The International Energy Agency is clear: there can be no new investments in coal, oil or gas projects if the global energy sector is to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and help avoid catastrophic climate change.

“To tackle climate change, Australia must rapidly phase out the use of coal and gas power and get on board with the world’s transition to a clean, renewable energy future. This means leaving coal in the ground, and doing more to give us a fighting chance against further climate impacts.”

The Climate Council says all new fossil fuel projects should be put on pause until the Federal Government can properly assess them under a stronger, reformed Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC). The Albanese Government committed to reform this Act in December last year. 

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